After the shortest off season in sports, the PGA Tour starts a new season at Silverado Resort’s North Course in Napa, California. Silverado is a 7,203 yard par 72 course. Sang Moon Bae won here last year with a winning score of -15. A much better start to his season than how his season ended. See his chip on 18 at the Presidents Cup and his upcoming 2 year absence from the game to fulfill his military service in South Korea. Silverado is definitely not the most difficult course on Tour. There are a couple of long par 3s and all the par 5s should be reachable by most. The course is not long and the fairways are average in width. The rough is lush but not overly penalizing. There are lots of trees surrounding the fairways so if golfers miss wildly off the tee, they could be in trouble. There are also strategically placed fairway and green side bunkers on almost every hole. The greens should be firm but not overly fast and the greens at Silverado use poa annua grass. Last year green speeds were around 10.5 on the stimpmeter and will probably be close to that this year. Overall, the greens are a little smaller than most on Tour and there is subtle contouring on them. Other than a couple of really hilly holes (hole 8), they don’t undulate too much.
Looking at the course description above and trends from last year, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats and current form (I know it’s a new season but the off season is short enough where I think current form is still relevant) to pick my golfers for DraftKings this week. I will also take a peek at last year’s results, which was the only other PGA tournament played at Silverado in the last thirty years.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G) and Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P), which are key stats every week.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
Eight of the Top 12 in 2014 finished in the Top 74 in P4 last year. Six of the Top 12 finished inside the Top 50 in this stat last year. The Par 5s are all reachable and fairly easy so I think the difference between scoring well and not will be based on P4 scoring this week.
Proximity 175 yards+ (Prox175+):
All of the par 3s are 175 yards or longer. All the Par 5s are reachable and will have approach shots from this length. Even a couple of Par 4s will have approaches from this length due to doglegs and golfers needing to position themselves in the right spot. Golfers could be hitting up to eight approach shots a round from 175-200 yards this week.
Driving Distance (DD):
Longer hitters have a slight advantage this week. They should be able to go over the trees on many holes with doglegs leaving short irons in their hands for some approaches. All the Par 5s are reachable so length will make the approach shots easier on those holes, especially because of the smallish greens. Last year nine of the Top 12 finished inside the Top 92 in DD. Six of the Top 12 finished in the Top 57 in DD.
No golfer is perfect. Missed shots are going to happen. Bunkers are strategically placed on fairways and greens. The greens aren’t too big so golfers are going to miss some. Hitting into and getting out of the trees will also come into play this week. How golfers get out of these trouble spots will help determine who makes the cut and contends and who misses the weekend. Last year ten of the Top 12 finished inside the Top 100 in SCR. Seven of the Top 12 finished inside the Top 78 and five of the Top 12 finished inside the Top 45.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
***I will be using stats from last season.
Rory McIlroy ($12,800):
Rory is the best player in this tournament and my favorite to win. Not going too far out on the limb with this pick. He’s one of the Top 3 golfers in the world so there really is no reason to think too hard on this pick IF you want to pay up for him.
Justin Rose ($12,000):
If you don’t feel like paying up for Rory, Rose is the next logical choice. Once again, not taking too big of a risk on this pick but having at least 1 of the studs in this tournament is probably a good idea. The prices are set up where you can actually make a solid studs and duds lineup with two players in the high end range. You can even have a team with Rory and Rose and still have a competitive lineup.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,800):
Hideki is my favorite pick this week other than Rory. He played well at the Presidents Cup and the one thing I noticed about his game in Korea was how well he putted. His putter is usually his only downfall when it comes to stats. He is 57th in DD, 30th in SCR, 3rd in P4, 7th in Prox175+, and 8th in SG:T2G. He’s only 83rd in SG:P but if he putts like he did in Korea, he has a great chance to win. His putting actually improves greatly on poa annua greens so that’s another good reason to have him in your lineups. He also finished 3rd at Silverado last year. He will probably be my most owned golfer throughout all my lineups and a cash game staple.
Brooks Koepka ($10,600):
I was worried about Koepka’s mental state after playing like crap at the end of last season AND getting passed over for the Presidents Cup twice but he finished 2nd at the Dunhill Classic last week. This puts my mind more at ease about using him because his stats for the course are in the Top 5 range and he finished 8th at Silverado last year. He’s 8th in DD, 10th in P4, 2nd in Prox175+, 17th in SG:P, and 34th in SG:T2G. I wouldn’t use him in cash games because his price is probably too high for the risk but he makes for a sound GPP play this week.
Robert Streb ($9200):
I struggled between Streb and Finau for this final high end pick but went with Streb because he’s a little more consistent, has better stats, and putts better than Finau on poa annua greens. Finau actually finished 12th at Silverado last year and Streb finished 31st but that’s where Finau’s advantage ends. Streb is 36th in DD, 79th in SCR, 18th in P4, 24th in SG:P, and 27th in SG:T2G. I like his price because you can actually fit Streb in with two other high end picks and still have enough money to make a solid team.
Mid Level Golfers ($7000-$8900)
Daniel Berger ($8900):
The 2015 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is coming into this tournament playing some of his best golf. In his last three starts on Tour he has finished 12th, 2nd, and 12th. His stats for the course are in the Top 15. He’s 18th in DD, 59th in SCR, 50th in P4, 42nd in Prox175+, and 33rd in SG:T2G. He missed the cut here last year but he wasn’t playing nearly as good as he is now so I wouldn’t look too much into that. If his putter gets hot he has Top 5 potential written all over him.
Ryan Palmer ($8600):
Palmer is a fairly consistent player at a decent price point. He made 17/21 cuts last year and had five Top 10s. His stats for the course are inside the Top 10. He’s 13th in DD, 60th in SCR, 26th in P4, 61st in Prox175+, 68th in SG:P, and 25th in SG:T2G. I think he can make some noise this year and it could start this week.
Hunter Mahan ($8600):
Mahan had an off year by his standards in 2015 but he played well during the Fed Ex Cup playoffs and finished 3rd here last year. Mahan putts much better on poa annua greens than other types so that is definitely a bonus in picking him this week. His stats are above average except for Prox175+ and SG:T2G. I can look past his 135th ranking in SG:T2G because that’s going to happen in an off year. His Prox175+ stat worries me more so I will not use him in cash games but he will be in a few GPP lineups of mine.
Steven Bowditch ($8200):
Bowditch had a nice victory over Jimmy Walker on Sunday at the Presidents Cup and hopefully he can use that momentum to play well this week. He finished 3rd here last year and has great stats for the course. He’s 18th in DD, 3rd in SCR, 26th in P4, 67th in SG:P, and 66th in SG:T2G. I actually feel safe using him in GPPs and cash games this week.
Chris Kirk ($8100):
This is purely a gut pick for me. His stats for the course are average and he really didn’t have a great season last year but that putt he made on 18 at the Presidents Cup against Lahiri to basically win the Cup for the USA was probably his biggest moment in golf. When he made that putt and Lahiri missed his, I literally ran around my house screaming and yelling at 2 o’clock in the morning. Hopefully he can use that putt as momentum to get him back into the same form he had a few years ago.
Daniel Summerhays ($8000):
Another poa annua specialist that makes the list. Summerhays had a great end of the season last year and I can see him continuing his run at Silverado. He has two Top 10s in his last three events. His stats are average but he plays par 4s exceptionally well (18th in P4) and he is one of the best putters on Tour (3rd in SG:P). That combo will be very helpful this week.
Russell Knox ($7900):
Knox frustrated many owners last year with his inconsistency but in his last three events he has finished 45th, 12th, and 20th so he could be turning a corner in his game. His stats for the course are in the Top 20 and he made the cut at Silverado last year. He’s 71st in SCR, 7th in P4, 9th in Prox175+, and 23rd in SG:T2G. He’s not a cash game play but I’ll use him in GPPs.
Rory Sabbatini ($7500)
Sabbatini’s stats for the course and current form are solid for his price. He’s 90th in DD, 17th in SCR, 10th in P4, 28th in Prox175+, and 39th in SG:T2G. He also has two Top 25 finishes in his last three events. As long as he doesn’t crap the bed with his putter (134th in SG:P) I expect another Top 25 finish for him this week.
Bryce Molder ($7500):
I always like having good putters in my lineup and Molder is one of the best especially at his price point. He is actually one of the best putters on Tour when putting on poa annua greens. He’s also a good scrambler and is 18th in P4. His other stats are below average but he played well at Silverado last year finishing 3rd. He is a bit inconsistent but I will have him in a couple GPP lineups this week.
George McNeil ($7500):
McNeil is another inconsistent golfer but in a weaker field tournament like this one, risks are going to have to be taken. I expect McNeil to be low owned so he makes for a great GPP play this week. His stats for the course are well above average. Other than DD he is Top 53 in all the other key stats including 22nd in Prox175+. He is a risky pick but making picks like this is how you take down a GPP.
Wil Wilcox ($7500):
Wilcox seems to make my list every week he plays. The reason why? His stats and price. He is the number 1 ranked player this week when it comes to key stats for the course. He’s 42nd in DD, 24th in SCR, 3rd in P4, 2nd in Prox175+, 32nd in SG:P, and 20th in SG:T2G. He has burned me in the past but I will still be using him in cash games this week.
Martin Laird ($7400):
Laird has missed his last two cuts on Tour but I’m willing to look past that because he really likes the course. He has stated in interviews how well the course suits his game and I’m going to take his word for it. Especially since he finished 3rd at Silverado last year. Another great GPP play because I expect his ownership to be low.
Sam Saunders ($7400):
Saunders didn’t have the best season on the PGA Tour last year but he has played well in his most recent Web.com events. In his last three Web.com events he has finished 3rd, 47th, and 4th. He also has above average distance off the tee and hits the ball well from 175+. Another purely GPP play due to his probable low ownership.
Zac Blair ($7300):
Blair has played well recently on Tour making his last three cuts including a 4th place finish at the Barclays. His stats are average overall but he is 6th in SCR, 50th in P4, and 11th in SG:P. He also finished 12th here last year. You’re going to need players at this price range and I feel comfortable using him in both GPPs and cash games.
Scott Brown ($7300):
Brown has good stats for the course, finished 12th at Silverado last year, and finished 3rd at the Wyndham a few weeks ago. All great things for a golfer to have especially at his price. Brown is 55th in SCR, 74th in P4, 50th in Prox175+, and 78th in SG:T2G. I don’t expect him to go out and contend this week but I’m fairly confident that he will make the cut and at this price point that’s all you’re looking for in cash games.
Shawn Stefani ($7100):
Stefani is a consistent player at a low price. Exactly what you need in cash games. He made 21/26 cuts last season and is Top 25 in key stats for the course. He’s 44th in DD, 26th in P4, 22nd in Prox175+, 88th in SG:P, and 42nd in SG:T2G. He made the cut here last year and I expect him to do the same this year.
Low End Value Picks ($6000-$7000)
***I don’t think you need to pick golfers under $6000 this week because of how the prices look and because of the low quality of golfers in that price range. I don’t have any on the list but if you need to use someone at this price for some reason, take a look at Aaron Baddeley, Chesson Hadley, or Andres Gonzales.
William McGirt ($7000):
McGirt is another cheaper option I like in cash games this week. He has been playing good golf lately making six out of his last seven cuts and has great stats for the course. He’s 11th in SCR, 26th in P4, 61st in Prox175+, 91st in SG:P, and 46th in SG:T2G. I will be using him and Stefani as my cheap plays in my main cash lineup, leaving room for plenty of higher priced studs.
Hudson Swafford ($6900):
Once we get to this price point the quality of golfers really falls off. I am not comfortable using any golfer $6900 and under in cash games this week but we are going to need to play some of these golfers in GPPs just so we can have as many studs in our lineup as possible. Swafford falls into this category. His stats for the course are solid and he finished 8th at Silverado last year. He’s 29th in DD, 50th in P4, 84th in Prox175+, and 26th in SG:P. He is my most comfortable play under $7000 this week.
Ollie Schniederjans ($6800)
This rookie played well last season and is a name to look out for as the season progresses. In his last 3 made cuts he has finished 15th, 22nd, and 12th. He also played as a marker during the Tour Championship and shot well under par during his round there. Hopefully this helps him build momentum into this new season. His upside is high for his price.
John Peterson ($6600):
Peterson hasn’t played that well recently but his stats for the course are the best out of all players under $7000. He’s 14th in SCR, 26th in P4, 13th in Prox175+, and 47th in SG:T2G. Peterson is one of the more consistent players at this price point, making over 70% of his cuts last season. He made the cut here last year and has the possibility of making some noise this week.
Jon Curran ($6300):
Curran hasn’t played that well recently and his stats for the course are just average but he did finish 8th at Silverado last year and had five Top 10 finishes in 2015. Not bad for a golfer who is only $6300.
Spencer Levin ($6100):
Levin’s stats for the course are just average but he has been playing decent golf lately. He has made his last three cuts on Tour with two Top 20 finishes. He finished 21st here last year and if he can do that again, he might make you some money because of his low price.
Greg Owen ($6000):
Owen is a very inconsistent golfer but in his last four made cuts he has finished 15th, 20th, 6th, and 2nd making him a high upside pick with a low price. The perfect combo for GPPs. His stats for the course are second best to Peterson for golfers under $7000. He’s 62nd in DD, 74th in SCR, 26th in P4, 8th in Prox175+, and 43rd in SG:T2G. He missed the cut here last year and there is a very real possibility that he could do the same this year, but if he makes the cut he could finish high and make someone a lot of money.